Book Launch


From: Wednesday February 15, 2023, 5:00 pm

To: Wednesday February 15, 2023, 7:00 pm

The Economic Society of Australia (Queensland Branch) will host the launch of Professor Lionel Page's book Optimally Irrational at Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point campus on Wednesday 15 February at 5pm. The event is free to attend. Advance registration is required for catering purposes.

Date:   Wednesday 15 February 2023
Time:   5 pm – 7 pm
Venue: Owen J Wordsworth (OJW) Room, Level 12, Block S, Gardens Point, QUT
RSVP:  5 pm, Monday 13 February


Professor Lionel Page, University of Queensland

Professor Lionel Page is the Director of the Behaviour and Economic Science Cluster at the University of Queensland. He is a behavioural economist who has published extensively in the different areas of this discipline including on decisions under risk, time preferences, social preferences, and strategic thinking. He has published more than 50 scientific papers, and his research has been discussed in leading media such as the New York TimesWall Street JournalTimesGuardian and The Australian.

Optimally Irrational

In Optimally Irrational, Lionel Page proposes an ambitious overhaul of our understanding of behavioural “biases” and what they mean. While behavioural economics has been very successful to help us understand how people really make decisions in the real world, the discipline is often presented as having shown that people are “irrational” and poor at making decisions. Lionel argues against this vision. Over the recent years, a growing interest has arisen in economics and beyond to make sense of the quirks of human behaviour as being adaptive: being good solutions to the actual problems we face. In Optimally Irrational, Lionel presents an overview of the findings in behavioural economics and discusses in a clear and intuitive way the explanations which have been proposed for the seemingly irrational aspects of our behaviour.

For more information about the book, see the publisher’s website.

Book Reviews

‘The time has gone by when behavioural economists had to struggle to make any headway against the neoclassical orthodoxy that once held sway. Now the question is whether neoclassical economics can survive its replacement by behavioural economics as the new orthodoxy. But books have begun to be written which deny that any rivalry is necessary. They seek to meld the two approaches using the theory of evolution as a unifying tool. Neoclassical ideas are seen as being needed to study evolutionary processes in the style pioneered by evolutionary biologists. Behavioural economics is seen as being needed to study the outcomes of such processes in the style pioneered by evolutionary psychologists. Lionel Page’s book is the best I know at expounding how this cross-fertilization of disciplines works - meaty in its choice of examples without going overboard on technical details. Future research will doubtless undermine some of the claims made from both sides of the fence, but one could not find a better source for studying the current state of play.’ Ken Binmore, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University College London

‘This book is an antidote to the generally pessimistic view that the field of behavioural economics has conveyed about human cognition and behaviour. Lionel Page builds a much richer understanding of the plethora of cognitive deficiencies and human misbehaviours reported in the literature. He approaches them with the mindset of someone who wonders whether they cannot be better understood as good solutions to the actual problems that humans face in real life. In the process, Page covers huge swaths of scientific territories (such as decision theory, game theory, social psychology, cognitive science). He provides very good intuitions through engaging examples and a discussion of past historical debates, in spite of the technically challenging nature of the material covered. This book is a must-read for any scientist interested in the irrational side of human behaviour. Beyond, it will be a great read to educated readers fond of behavioural economics.’ Peter Bossaerts, Faculty of Economics, Cambridge University

‘What is behavioural economics and how has it affected the way economic research is conducted, used and perceived? Is behavioural economics defined by the questions it poses, the methods it employs, or by something else? How are economics’ questions and methods affected by behavioural economics? Almost a century after the official divorce of economics from psychology, and some three decades into the behavioural revolution, Lionel Page offers a lucid and intelligent assessment of the state of the science. With a strong and enlightening focus on historical and philosophical perspectives, Optimally Irrational suggests evolutionary psychology as a guiding principle for organizing our knowledge, striking a balance between observation and theory, and helping us to tell apart insightful analysis from fanciful idealisation, as well as robust findings from anecdotal evidence.’ Itzhak Gilboa, Professor of Economics and Decision Sciences, HEC Paris

‘The human mind is an elaborate product of natural selection. Optimally Irrational is very welcome in bringing into focus the evolutionary underpinnings of human cognition as applied to economic decisions. Behavioural economics has often taken psychological mechanisms as arbitrary, without regard to the evolutionary design problems that created them. Such an atheoretical approach is questionable in view of the replication crisis in psychology. Page’s deeper examination of behavioural economics is thoughtful and wide ranging. I learned much from this insightful and engaging book.’ David Hirshleifer, Professor of Finance, University of California at Irvine

‘Rationality, central in economics and empirically abandoned in the ‘behavioural revolution’, is, unfortunately, rarely discussed because of its slippery nature. This monograph captures its essence, as well as that of behavioural economics. Nuanced and in-depth, it thus serves two methodological purposes - a fortunate combination because one cannot be understood well without the other.’ Peter Wakker, Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University, Rotterdam.


Bookings are now closed


Owen J Wordsworth (OJW) Room, Block S, Level 12, Gardens Point

2 George St, Brisbane, Brisbane QLD 4000

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